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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

Novemvber 12, 2007 Edition - ANNUAL BIRTHDAY EDITION
(C) 2007 Portland Ice Skating Society

Today is Tonya's birthday, so it's time for our annual birthday 
issue. Tonya is 37 today, and we hope that she has a really great 
day. In this issue, we have a look at some birthday photos, go to 
the opera, look at some musicians making an ass of themselves in 
Tonya's name, find out about how Tonya financed a budding 
Spielberg, do some coloring in, and continue our series on Tonya 


To celebrate Tonya's birthday, we've uploaded some pictures of 
Tonya at a birthday party some years ago - but it wasn't Tonya's 
own birthday!

Confused? Well, it was actually a surprise birthday party that 
Tonya organized for her fan club magazine editor Joe Haran back 
in 1993. Joe tells the story in an article he wrote for the 
Puppetland site in 1999:

Tonya had just moved into a new rental house after separating 
from you-know-who, and had invited Joe to a housewarming party to 
celebrate. But as it would turn out, the "housewarming party" was 
simply a ruse to get Joe to come on over - the real party was 
actually a birthday party for Joe himself.

It wasn't the only surprise that Tonya had arranged for Joe that 
evening: turns out that the candles on the birthday cake were 
rigged so they couldn't be blown out.

We've uploaded these pictures because we believe that they reveal 
a caring, fun-loving and playful side of Tonya that the 
mainstream media rarely shows. Too often Tonya is only depicted 
as being cold, nasty or a dysfunctional weirdo. These photos show 
that the truth is quite the opposite. Plus there's a chance to 
have a look at Tonya's fantastic legs, of course!

Again, we'd like to thank Joe for sharing these with us.


Regular readers will be aware that last year featured the debut 
of an opera based on the Tonya story. Since then, things have 
been busy on the opera front. According to the opera's web site,, excerpts from it were 
performed at a conference in New York City and also at the Sing 
for a Cure (MS Benefit) at Mastersingers, and at a benefit for 
LitPAC at the Paradise in Boston. On June 23, 2007 it was chosen 
as one of three finalists in the Opera Vista competition and 
excerpts from it were performed by Opera Vista in Houston, TX on 
that date. A seminar called "From Assault to Aria: Directing 
Tonya & Nancy: The Opera" was presented by Meron Langsner at the 
Association for Theatre in Higher Education Annual Conference in 
New Orleans in July.

Now there are plans to bring it to Tonya's home town of Portland 
next year, but in a radically different form. Together with 
composer Michael Teoli, the opera's creators Elizabeth Searle and 
Abigail Al-Doory Cross have come up with an expanded rock music 
version. Teoli, who has worked on music for theater, rock bands 
and over a dozen films, is currently working on the score while 
Searle is expanding the libretto. TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA 
will premiere in February of 2008 at the World Trade Center 
theater in Portland, OR, produced by Triangle Productions and is 
scheduled to run for at least three weeks. 


The opera isn't the only item of a musical nature inspired by 
Tonya. Previously we mentioned a band called "Hello Monkey" that 
recorded a concept album called "Blades of Steel" about the 
incident, which we couldn't find anything about. That's because 
their name is actually "Hello Donkey", and yes, they do have a 
web site:

In addition to being able to order their CD, which comes with a 
free comic book, "A Day in the life of Hello Donkey", you can 
download a live performance of several of the songs from the 
album, which also includes other skating inspired material 
entitled "Ice Kastles in the Sand". Note that some of the 
language is definitely "R"-rated so it may not be safe to play 
this stuff at work.

Attempts to get in touch with the members of the band, which 
hails from San Francisco, have not been successful, and to be 
quite honest apart from a piece from the perspective of Tonya's 
broken shoelace (an admittedly original idea) most of it isn't 
terribly innovative. The sentiments expressed in the lyrics are 
pretty much poorly-researched stereotypes (they think Oksana is 
from Russia) and alot of the music sounds like a distorted mish-
mash, more akin to the most self-indulgent aspects of "prog" rock 
than the "punk" they claim they sound like. It's probably okay if 
you're listening while stinking drunk in a bar (like the audience 
at the gig in question), but all in all, a bit half-assed and 
in need of a good producer to straighten things out, so you'll 
probably be better off saving your money on this one.

Get it? "Half ASSED"? "Hello DONKEY"? Oh well, we thought it was 
funny anyway.


It seems the scandal has also resulted in another creative 
effort too, though not one actually related to Tonya. This guy, 
in an article from a 1994 film magazine, explains how money he 
got from covering the incident financed his foray into 
feature film production:

Pity that it sounds like the resulting film (about an abused 
woman who decides to take revenge on her drug-dealer husband) was 
crap, given its dismal rating by IMDB users:


"Let's paint the 90's" by Jason Rekulak is a coloring and 
activity book that centers on the decade in question. The book, 
which comes complete with its own paint and brush set, features 
numerous news and pop-culture icons from that decade, such as the 
Spice Girls, Milli Vanilli, Y2K, Monica Lewinsky, and of course 

According to one article, Rekulak originally envisioned his book 
being about the 1980's, but he says that when he pitched the idea 
to his bosses at Quirk Books "some of the interns asked questions 
like 'Who's Huey Lewis?'". "I thought, 'Maybe this isn't going to 
work.'... So we bumped it up to the '90s."

Rekulak wrote the text in the book, but the illustrations are by 
Brie Spangler and it was designed by his Quirk colleague, Bryn 
Ashburn. In addition to the illustrations there also are 
activities such as the "O. J. Simpson High-Speed Pursuit Freeway 
Maze" and a "Y2K Codebreaker Challenge." 


We continue our series about sources for Tonya-related footage by 
considering one of the oldest methods used by fans of obtaining 
video of their favorite skaters - trading the stuff on physical 

Despite the availability of much Tonya material on the internet, 
there is still alot of video out there that isn't currently 
either on-line or has never been issued on commercial tapes or 
DVDs. For instance, there are many people out there who do not 
have the facility to digitize and upload their skating video 
collections, so in such cases the only solution is to obtain it 
by trading.

Sandra Loosemore's Skateweb site has a list of several tape & 
disc trading sites:

There are of course, some problems with this approach, in that 
for a start you have to have something to trade - not much use if 
you're a "newbie" to trading. Fortunately you may be able to 
trade footage of other skaters in exchange for Tonya footage. 
You also have to have the facility to make copies of your 
material. Then there's the cost of postage (which can get 
expensive in the case of international transactions) - and also 
the danger of unscrupulous traders ripping you off. So care has 
to be taken to establish the reputation of whom you dealing with.

A couple of other points to note. Firstly, there are technical 
differences between the TV systems used in various different 
countries, and tapes in particular may not be compatible. For 
instance, there are three major TV systems in use throughout the 
world: NTSC (mainly used in North America and Japan), PAL (mainly 
used in Britain, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) and 
SECAM (used in France, Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle 
East). Although it is possible to have recordings electronically 
converted, this is expensive and inevitably results in a quality 
drop. Fortunately, this isn't as big a problem as it used to be 
for Tonya's fans as most of her stuff is NTSC, and most video 
equipment sold outside the States in the past ten years is multi-
system and can play NTSC tapes and discs anyway, but it may be a 
problem if you're a foreigner sending material in trade to 
someone in the U.S. where multisystem equipment is much less 
common. That PAL tape of that BBC Torvill & Dean interview may 
not play too well on a VCR is Boise, Idaho, for instance, so make 
sure both you and the person you're dealing with know exactly 
what they're getting.

The other big problem is "generation loss" - the inevitable drop 
in quality that results when doing analog copying, particularly 
with consumer video formats like VHS which was never designed 
with this in mind. Again, however, we're fortunate in that DVDs 
have thankfully eliminated this problem, because they're digital 
so each copy is identical to its source.

Despite these obstacles, trading is certainly an option worth 
considering. We ourselves got a quite interesting collection of 
1990's tabloid TV items about Tonya back a few years ago in 
exchange for some footage of the 1996 U.S. Nationals that 
strangely enough screened on NZ TV but not in the States.

Tonyaphiles are fortunate in that Tonya skated in an era when 
skating coverage was reasonably plentiful and VCRs had become 
common household items. Much of the footage recorded has since 
been made available in various ways by fans. In this respect 
we're far better off than the poor fans of Peggy Fleming or 
Dorothy Hamill, who seem to have to make do with mainly a handful 
of bleary-looking transfers of worn-out old 16mm movies. For fans 
of these skaters, that faded, scratchy "grindhouse" look isn't a 
retro-type artistic statement, it's just a fact of life.


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